Little Women
Louisa May Alcott
Contributed by Sherie Debus
Chapters 24-28

Summary — Chapter 24: Gossip

The first chapter of Part Two in the novel opens after three years have passed. Meg is about to get married, the Civil War has ended and Mr. March has come back home. Mr. Brooke has gone to the war and come back with a minor injury. Meanwhile, Meg has become adept at keeping house and Amy has replaced Jo as the care-taker for Aunt March. Jo continues to write stories for the newspaper for which she is paid one dollar a column. Laurie has also passed out of the college. Laurie’s college friends fall in love with Amy who has grown into a lovely young woman. Sallie Gardiner has married Ned Moffat. As Meg is about to get married, the March family work on Meg’s new little house. Laurie brings gifts for Meg and Jo tells him that he spends too much money. Laurie teases Jo that, whether she likes it or not, she will be the next one to marry. Jo gets a little upset upon hearing this.

Summary — Chapter 25: The First Wedding

Meg gets married in a small ceremony where all the March girls in their summer dresses look beautiful and slightly different from how they appeared three years ago. Jo has mellowed down a bit, Amy is still gorgeous and Beth is pale and fragile but in good spirits. The wedding goes off smoothly. When Laurie enquires about the expensive wine that his grandfather sent, Meg informs him that they have kept a little aside for medicinal use and the rest has been given away. Meg then urges Laurie never to drink alcohol and he agrees to her request. After he wedding celebrations are over, Meg leaves the house, asking her family members to keep her in their hearts.

Summary — Chapter 26: Artistic Attempts

Amy spends a lot of her time working on art, though she is not a genius, she has passion for it. At the end of one of her art classes, she asks Marmee if she can invite her friends over for a lunch and an afternoon of sketching. She wants to throw a grand party and offers to pay for it. Marmee agrees but only to teach Amy a lesson about trying to present her as something she is not. The party ends up costing more than Amy plans as she has to reschedule the picnic because of rain and set up everything again the next day. When she goes out to buy lobster, she meets a friend of Laurie who sees the lobster, considered low-class food at the time, leaving Amy very embarrassed, although she manages to charm him later. The party begins but there is only one person who shows up. Amy, cheerful and merry at the beginning, is disappointed at the way how things have turned out. Her family is very kind and tactful all this while.

Summary — Chapter 27: Literary Lessons

Jo continues to write, but one night, she goes to a lecture on pyramids. As she is waiting for the lecture to begin, a boy shows her a newspaper with a sensationalist story; Jo finds it very silly. Then, she sees that the newspaper is offering a one hundred dollar prize for the best sensationalist story. Jo excitedly writes a story and wins the prize. With the money, she arranges for a trip for Marmee and Beth at the seashore for several weeks to improve Beth’s health. Jo keeps writing and making more money to provide for herself and the family. Finally, she decides to finish her romantic novel but the publisher tells her to cut it down. She conforms but after a long consideration. When the novel is published, she gets $300 as well as mixed reviews from critics.

Summary — Chapter 28: Domestic Experiences

Meg gradually learns to be a good wife. She and Mr. Brooke must spend money carefully because they are poor. Meg tries her hand at making jelly but fails miserably. At night, Mr. Brooke brings home an unexpected guest. Meg is angry at his insensitivity even though she has earlier allowed him to bring home guests anytime he wishes. The couple has their first fight but soon patch up. The next trial comes when Meg overspends on shopping with Sallie Gardiner. She buys expensive fabric, which stops Mr. Brooke from buying a new coat. Later, Meg asks Sallie to buy the fabric from her, whom Sallie does, and Meg purchases a coat for John. Soon, Meg gives birth to twins, John Laurence and Margaret, who are called Demi and Daisy for short.


Alcott published Part Two of the novel after getting feedback about Part One from her readers, publishers, and family. In Part Two, she tries to please her readers, but often it is evident that she does not approve of their amoral tastes.Chapter 24 titled ‘Gossip’ starts in a flippant tone, copying the tone of Meg’s rich friends and implying that Alcott herself is critical of the way in which her novel continues. Amy has not learnt her lesson and continues to crave for a luxurious life. She spends time and money trying to impress her rich friends from her art class with a fancy party. As usual, the failure of her party gives Amy another opportunity to learn a lesson about pretending to be something she is not.

Alcott here emphasizes that women living in poverty should be particular about their dignity. In Alcott's eyes, living beyond one’s means is extremely undignified. If someone tries to impress others by doing so, she can see through this facade and can recognize poverty. The author suggests that dignity is only earned by accepting one’s poverty gracefully and refusing to be embarrassed by it. Meanwhile, Jo continues to evolve as an independent woman. It is significant that when she goes to the lecture on the pyramids, she sits behind two women discussing women’s rights. Jo believes that she can do anything she likes even if that means foregoing the traditional woman’s role as housewife. Jo enjoys her independence and her ability to take care of her and the family financially. It is for this reason the whole family supports her in her pursuits.

Alcott indirectly supports Jo's character's choices and the way she bears responsibility. Mr. March suggests Jo to wait for her book to mature before publishing it. The inconvenient truth is that the family needs money desperately and Mr. March is not contributing anything for the family. As a result, Jo junks artistic ideals to provide for her family. Meg, in contrast to Amy and Jo, tries to become a good wife and homemaker. But her momentary blip and the desire for luxury remind her that married or unmarried, she is still growing up.

Significantly, Alcott's treatment of marriage is realistic. It is not the typical happily-ever-after end of the story, rather, one step in a lifetime that does not drastically change the personality of either husband or wife. This realistic portrayal of marriage is displayed through Meg’s wedding where a happy event ends with the family gathered cozily in a room. Part One of the novel ends with a close-knit family in a happy mood. The realities of life are setting in, and sadly, the sisters have begun to scatter.

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